2006 TRENCH PC 1
Field Supervisor: Robert Vander Poppen, University of North Carolina
Field Supervisor Robert
Report - Robert Vander Poppen, Field Supervisor:
This year we have taken the opportunity
of the study season to revisit the original trench excavated
atop Poggio Colla. PC 1 was excavated during the first four seasons
of exploration and provided some of the most important evidence
for activity atop the hill. The trench is located on the southern
side of the hill and contains the south wall foundation of our
courtyard building. We have evidence here for both Hellenistic
phases (4th-2nd centuries B.C.) of our monumental building. The
foundation wall for the earlier building runs at the southern
end of the trench about a half-meter inside the later wall. The
earlier wall was constructed of a series of large well quarried
blocks, while the later wall bears the characteristic rubble
construction of our last phase atop Poggio Colla. The trench
also produced the first votive context uncovered at the site,
containing a small bronze head of the god Apollo.
Robert Vander Poppen and
students working in PC 1 during Week 1.
We began the season by removing the backfill
put into the trench at the end of previous seasons in order to
protect the architecture contained within the trench. This long
and tedious task concluded with the removal of the landscape
mesh laid down in the bottom of the trench and the students'
first glimpse of the walls and scarps (vertical profiles at the
edges of the trench). Once this task was accomplished we cleaned
up the trench, sweeping and scraping the soil to reveal the characteristic
stones, pottery, tile, and carbon that give us clues about the
nature of the particular layer of soil we are examining.
Our goal in revisiting this trench this
season is twofold. First of all, we will to continue to excavate
the trench to the north and west in order to reveal evidence
for activity in this section of the building courtyard. The trench
also provides us the unique opportunity to reexamine some of
our earlier interpretations of the soils accumulated with each
period of occupation in light of the knowledge about the site
that we have gained in the past several years. In other words,
we can compare our original perceptions of the soil, formulated
at the beginning of the excavation, with the benefit of hindsight.
Students working in Trench
PC 1 early in the 2006 field season.
Along the same lines, we have the opportunity
to proceed deeper in this trench in order to see if some of the
layers are associated with either the construction of our Hellenistic
building or the use of the Archaic period (7th-5th century) structure
that preceded it. This should give us a far better understanding
of the activity that occurred on the south side of the hilltop
in the Archaic period, something for which we have little evidence
Trench PC 1 from the southeast
during Week 2.
Already we have cleared the humus (a
soil comprised of the decaying plant matter of the local vegetation)
from the trench and also a layer created after the destruction
of our last building on the hilltop. Just this limited amount
of excavation has produced a number of surprises. We have already
discovered a large spread of roof tile and stones that appear
to extend across a portion of the trench. Over the course of
the next week or so we will seek to define its limits and also
to determine if it was laid down to provide a stable surface
for the building floor, or if it represents the collapsed roof
of the structure.
View from the south of students working in Trench PC 1 during
Students sifting for small finds in dirt from Trench PC 1.
Student watches Robert Vander Poppen draw in notebook.
Candace Vaden and students traingulate points in PC 1.
Roof tile uncovered in Trench PC 1 during Week 3.
Robert Vander Poppen supervises his crew in Trench PC 1, Week
View of Trench PC 1 from the south during Week 3.
Lisa Mabli and Jason Doran excavated a vessel sherd in PC 1.
Robert Vander Poppen's field notebook.
Week 3 view from the south of Robert Vander Poppen with students
in Trench PC 1.
View of PC 1 from the northeast during Week 4.
Candace Vaden working in Feature 1 in Trench PC 1.
Report - Robert Vander Poppen, Field Supervisor:
We have now come to the close of our
12th season of excavation at Poggio Colla. Despite the slightly
shortened field season due to a heavy emphasis on research, we
have managed to accomplish many of the goals laid out for PC
1 at the beginning of the season. Our primary goal was to reevaluate
the sequence of soil deposition of the southern end of the Phase
II and III buildings on top of Poggio Colla. This trench allowed
us to compare our original impressions of the stratigraphy in
light of the knowledge we have gained from the extensive excavations
of the interior of the central courtyard that have been conducted
over the past five years. We were interested to see if our greater
familiarity with the stratigraphy of the courtyard interior of
our Phase II and III structures would alter the way in which
we would read the occupation history as represented in the first
trench excavated at Poggio Colla. Our second goal for this season
was to carefully excavate a small section of the Phase II and
III walls in order to produce a deep cross-section that would
aid in determining more clearly the sequence of construction
of the two buildings, as well as the methods of construction
employed. A third goal for PC 1 in 2006 was the evaluation of
the remains of any layers associated with Archaic activity in
the southern section of the building. Previous excavation of
the area had failed to reveal such remains, but the discovery
that stratum 6 (stratum 4 in PC 23) was not a sterile soil lead
us to doubt that we had excavated to a deep enough level in PC
1 in order to reveal such activity.
Final photo of stratigraphy in north scarp of Trench PC 1 at
The 2006 campaign of excavation in PC
1 was successful in answering a number of the questions that
we posed at the beginning of the season. We were able to successfully
reevaluate the stratigraphy as seen by supervisors in 1995-1998,
and largely confirmed the sequence of layers that they had observed.
With the benefit of the knowledge of the past five years of excavation
we were able to assign far more specific dates and to give more
detailed interpretations of the layers than was possible last
time that PC 1 was opened. We were also able to produce a deep
cross-section over the Phase II and III walls and to discern
the method of construction employed in laying the foundations
for both structures. Due to the constraints of an abbreviated
season and a small excavating team this season we were unable
to excavate completely through stratum 6 anywhere within the
trench in order to see if any evidence of Archaic activity was
present at the deepest levels of the trench.
View from the east of Trench PC 1 at season's end.
The deposition of soils within PC 1 reveals
the details of the construction and use of the Hellenistic (Phase
II and III) buildings atop Poggio Colla in great detail. The
earliest soil we were able to uncover is a layer comprised of
rock and degraded sand that was brought in as a leveling fill
upon which to build the Phase II walls. It appears that the builders
of the earliest courtyard building laid the blocks for the wall
directly on top of this layer of soil. After the construction
of the building, another layer of soil was built up throughout
the period of use of Phase II.
View from the north of Trench PC 1 at season's end.
Eventually the inhabitants of Poggio
Colla decided to slightly expand and reorganize the building
on the hilltop. A new set of rubble foundations was constructed.
The sequence of construction was similar to that of the Phase
II building. Again no foundation trench was placed for the foundations.
Instead, the rubble masonry was laid on the surface of the ground
approximately 20cm to the south of the Phase II walls. A fill
packed with elite female items used in weaving was inserted between
the walls as a support for the rubble foundations. A layer of
roof tiles and broken coarse ware pottery sherds was spread out
across the trench as a packing on top of which the beaten earth
floor for the building would have been placed. Such a packing
would have aided in maintaining a level surface for the floor
as well as preventing settling.
Floor packing visible above foundation wall in the west scarp
of PC 1.
We uncovered little evidence for the
destruction of this latest phase of construction in PC 1. We
may not have evidence of the destruction here either because
the walls collapsed in the opposite direction away from the trench,
or because the area bordering the trench was unroofed. Whatever
the reason for a lack of destruction debris, it is clear that
the third phase building came to an end at the beginning of the
2nd century BC and little activity occurred atop Poggio Colla
until the Italian excavations from 1968-1972.
This season has been an incredibly successful
one at Poggio Colla despite its shorter duration and this is
largely a result of a highly competent and eager group of students.
Thanks to all who helped to answer many of the questions we had
about PC 1 in particular and life at Poggio Colla in general.
View from the southeast of Trench PC 1 at season's end.
Robert Vander Poppen and Jess Galloway make final drawings of
Robert Vander Poppen explains PC 1 during trench tours.